I am fortunate to have worked in several different valleys within Chile. Firstly in Elqui Valley at the border with the most arid desert in the world, surrounded by mountains where the sun spills over the grapes during the day and the stars shine and marvel at night. Then further south in Leyda Valley, a new wine growing region where the vines play with the sea breeze of the Pacific Ocean producing fresh and crispy whites and smooth, spicy reds. And finally I worked south of Santiago, in Colchagua valley, one of the most popular and old wine areas in Chile.
This incredible, magic length of land that forms Chile bares multiples terroirs along valleys and mountains enclosed between the Atacama Desert to the north, Patagonia and Antarctica to the south, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the majestic Andes to the east.
While many varietals are grown in Chile, the most iconic is Carmenere. This red varietal disappeared from European vineyards in the mid-19th century only to reappear miraculously among Chilean Merlot vines a hundred years later. It was not until 1994 that Professor Jean-Michel Boursiquot from the Montpellier’s school of Oenology confirmed that an earlier-ripening vine was Bordeaux Carmenere and not Merlot, as had been thought for the past century. Today Chile excels in Carmenere and without doubt this is a varietal wine that you will love. Fresh and fruity, Chilean Carmenere is showing all the potential of this magic and remote land.
Apaltagua Reserva Carmenere 2011 ($11.99) From Colchagua Valley, this wine shows the good expression of the grapes. Deep ruby in color with violets tints, on the nose it offers fresh, ripe red berries with a touch of oak and tobacco; on palate, it is bright with sweet and rounded tannins. Good balance and fresh finish.
Enjoy this Carmenere with spicy dishes like an Indian curry or a Mexican Mole. And if you have the chance, try it with the classic Chilean “Pastel de Choclo” a pie that combines meat and corn….Delicious!!!
– Soledad Claveria